Researchers uncover effects of motivation on Pokemon GO play and physical activity


Pokémon GO can benefit players through favorable health behaviors, according to a recent study published in JMIR Serious Games, “Examining Motivations to Play Pokémon GO and Their Influence on Perceived Outcomes and Physical Activity”. This should be great news to those of you who have been tracking and capturing Pokémon since the release of the worldwide phenomena, but there is more to the story than that by what motivates players to play in the first place.


Dr. Marquet and fellow researchers sampled a group of US college students who play Pokémon GO through online surveys, ecological momentary assessment (EMA) tools and step counters on their smartphones. EMAs involve repeated sampling of a subjects’ current behaviors and experiences in real time by prompting players with a set of questions on playing behavior and physical activity 3 times per day. This helps by minimizing recall bias (ie, recalling what you did based on short-term vs long-term memory) that can occur with an online survey, for example.

Three factors of motivation for playing Pokémon GO were extracted from the subjects based on their responses: Pokémon and video game fans, physical activity seekers, and curious & social. More than half of the players were motivated to play the game because they were Pokémon or video game fans. This group of players also had a higher number of total daily steps reported when playing Pokémon GO when compared to days that they weren’t playing. Not surprisingly, the physical activity seekers group had the most steps at the end of the day when playing Pokémon GO when compared to the other groups.

What about the curious & social group? Interestingly, the curious & social group found more enjoyment from the game than the other groups. However, all groups could agree that catching Pokémon is one of the most enjoyable parts of the game.

So whether it be catching Pidgeys or discovering new places, people play Pokémon GO for different reasons. I don’t think that there is any argument that walking and physical activity have health benefits. However, in order to attain these benefits, people have to get up and actually go do it, which to some this can be challenge. Therefore, finding motivation is the key, and for some, they have found that motivation in Pokémon GO.


You can read the journal article yourself by visiting